AN Eleebana triathlete preparing for her first international competition will spend the next six months recovering from a knee reconstruction after being hit by a car. Louisa Nicola, 23, was cycling with training partners Jake Smith and Nicholas Teague near Karuah on March 13 when an elderly driver collided with her and sent all three riders crashing to the road. "The car hit my wheel and I went flying into the two boys and we all smashed into the guard rail," Nicola said. "My knee swelled up, my bike was smashed in half, but I didn't really know what was happening because I was just in shock." Nicola was taken by ambulance to hospital and was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. She had surgery yesterday and has been told she will not be able to compete again until January at the earliest. Adding to the physical education student's anguish, she had been training for the world age-group triathlon championships in Beijing in September, at which she hoped to compete against other self-funded entrants who do not hold an elite-level professional licence. "It was very devastating," she said. "My coach [Aaron Lean] helped with that, and kept reinforcing that I will be able to get back to that level again next year. "I'm going to try again, but the worry is that I may not come back as good." Nicola said she rode 300 kilometres a week and it was the first time she had been involved in a traffic accident. "At first, I was just angry and upset," she said. "But after talking to my coach he made me realise that a lot of cyclists suffer injuries a lot worse than I did. "People die or get spinal injuries, so I got out of it quite lightly. It must be a sign." While Nicola was philosophical about her injuries, she was not so forgiving of the man who caused them. "To tell you the truth, he didn't show much sympathy," she said. "It was really bad." A triathlete for four years, Nicola said the Beijing event was a possible "stepping stone" towards higher-level competitions. "If you do well, you can qualify for an elite licence, but it's a massive process to get enough points for something like the London Olympics," she said.